Jun 09, 2016 Ministry of Communities
Georgetown, GINA, June 8, 2016
The Skills and Knowledge for Youth Employment (SKYE) project, has to date helped 158 at-risk youths, between the ages of 15 to 24 to start their own businesses.
SKYE, Chief of Party, Magda Fiona Wills, told the Government Information Agency (GINA), that with a significant donation of $20M from the Ministry of Communities under the Sustainable Livelihood Development (SLED) initiative , SKYE has been able to help 88 youths start their businesses.
Funding for business owned by the other 70 youths came from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), she said.
Wills explained that the money provided by the Ministry of Communities, allows each of the 88 young beneficiaries to access a maximum of $200,000 worth in supplies to set up their businesses. These businesses include poultry rearing, food and light manufacturing, retailing, mechanics, welding and cosmetology.
The beneficiaries are mainly males who are school dropouts, youths who completed formal education but do not have the necessary skills to find employment and youths recommended from the juvenile justice system.
“We do not just give them the money. What we do, is to ensure that we purchase the equipment needed and we work with them towards the start-up,” Wills said.
The SLED funding has also supported training to build the capacity of the youths in skills and business administration.
Wills further explained that in addition to these levels of support, SKYE has put systems in place to be able to, “keep track of the youths and to encourage the youths to do their (accounting)ledgers and their necessary financing.”
“We do not work with them, train them, ensure they do a business plan, finance them and just leave them. We work with them six months after, to ensure that they are following all the necessary procedures and they can realize real success, because to give them everything and just leave them, is like just giving them nothing,” Wills said. She explained that each beneficiary is paired with a life coach who provides mentorship
The SKYE Project is part of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), in which the United States is working together with the nations of the Caribbean on substantially reducing illicit trafficking, increasing public safety and security, and promoting social justice.
Funded by USAID, SKYE is managed by the Education Development Center (EDC), and works with private sector partners, government ministries, community agencies and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs.)
SYKE focuses on reducing youth crime and violence by reducing youths’ vulnerability to crime and working with them in varying ways by employing four strategies/approaches.
The support for the youths businesses’ fall under the “Be your own Boss,” components of SKYE’s work of assisting youths living in the at risk communities, to start their own businesses, Wills explained.
The other three remaining components of SKYE’s work involve “detention prevention,” where the project works to ensure that youths do not enter the detention system. SKYE does this by working with the magistracy, “so we can ensure that youths are given alternative to sentencing,” Wills said.
There is also the “welcome home,” component of SKYE’s work, where the project work with the youths coming out of the juvenile justice system, like the New Opportunity Corp (NOC) and to some extent, with President’s David Granger’s amnesty beneficiaries, ensuring that these youths are appropriately reintegrated into the society.
The “get ready to work” component of SKYE’s work focuses on ensuring youths are trained to be able to understand the job environment, “and therefore once they are linked to employment their abilities to be able to keep those jobs would increase,” Wills explained.
SKYE is slated to end in September of this year.
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